weird little radar blip

So I got back from the Massachusetts Library Association conference on Friday. Monday I went to one of the little libraries I work with and installed Ubuntu on their donated PCs. They have two Windows machines and the new machines asked for a Windows product code key when you turned them on. Pretty annoying. I had been messing around with Ubuntu — a user-friendly Linux distribution — and was pleasantly surprised how well it worked on my new laptop. Previously I had messed around with Linux on old PCs and it had been a nightmare of drivers and missing fonts and me not really understanding enough to make it work right. That has changed.

So I installed Ubuntu and made a little movie of it. I’m working on my little movie skills as I’m sure everyone who reads this knows. Each time I try to learn one more new technique. This time it was the freeze-frames and I actually put myself in this one doing a small voice over spot. It took an hour or two to put the thing together, cheezy graphics and all, then I went to bed. Tuesday I got up and went to work, sent the video around to my friends as usual. I’m always happy when 30-40 people see them. YouTube has a lot of little statistics so you can see what people rate your movie, or who links to it.

So by Tuesday afternoon, I checked my movie page and instead of a few hundred views I had a few thousand. That was weird. I clicked around somewhat and discovered that my movie had been linked as the 802 Online VT Video of the day and Cathy Resmer had sent the link over to Boing Boing who also linked it. I got email. I always get a fair amount of email from random people thanks to working for MetaFilter and having the job that I do, but this was a whole new crowd. I got install advice & tips and just a lot of nice “you go girl” messages. The video makes installing Ubuntu look fun which has always been the sticking point for a lot of non-super-genius geeks like me, the unfunness.

So then I got home after some burgers with Stan (amusing recounting of this whole thing on his blog) and Ubuntu called. Actually it was a guy who does support and systems whatnot over at Canonical and we had a long rambly phone conversation about tech geekery. He said he’d send me a bunch of pressed professional looking Ubuntu CDs so I could hand them out to librarians everyplace. I said that was great since I go to library conferences all the time, and that my local conference was next week. I told my friends “Ubuntu called!” and their first question was oftn “How did they get your phone number?” but of course, my phone number has been on the internet since 1996 or so.

I watched my little video creep up the stat-o-meters over on YouTube for a while, replied to more email and IM well-wishes, took out the garbage and went to bed. I sort of feel like the continuous partial attention that the networked world gives us results in not just continuous partial friendship [as my friend David Weinberger calls it] but also continuous partial fame. When Boing Boing linked to me — calling me an “Internet folk hero” which I find gigglingly amusing — they linked to an old post they’d made about me from 2003 and I had a hazy memory of this sort of thing happening before. Meanwhile I had eight people at drop-in time yesterday, a new high for 2007, and I signed people up for PayPal, showed them how to “make a link,” helped them make flyers for their Mary Kay spring sale, explained gmail and helped them with resume templates. To a person they were all like “Boing WHAT?” which is always a good keeping it real moment for me. Parlaying the Internet Folk Hero karma into Local Hero greenstamps is pretty high on my “to do” list. This all may help.

What do you think?


  1. Tried a brief comment on your blog re the video, but got a dorky message twice, so thought I’d try this way. What I wanted to say: That’s wonderfully entertaining. And you inspire me – to try again. ‘Bout 4/5 years ago Ganesh, Dominic and others at Oxlug struggled for most of the afternoon to install Debian on my old Toshiba laptop, which didn’t encourage me too much to try more. Your example means I’m certainly goona try again with Ubuntu. Thanks Dominic

    (Nothing to get worried about I thought, but my post today about walking at the weekend in Oxfordshire and Sussex got a strange reaction A reference to the name of one village C++k Marling – I better not spell it out just in case.)

    OK bye bye for now – will come back and read more / contribute more ..

  2. should have also said that you’ve been ‘relayed’ in the UK, which is how I came across you (see below) – so expect some further ‘blips’

    ‘From: “Ian Ibbotson”
    Date: Wed, 09 May 2007 16:48:02 +0100
    Subject: [ukriders] Ubuntu Advocacy, but related to Which Distro and Linux Certification, Linux On Dells, etc

    Hey all.. this is probably nothing but extra spam on the list, so
    apologies for that, but given that people occasionally ask which distro
    is best etc…. the link below is an absolutely fab bit of grass-roots
    ubuntu advocacy. It’s a short video a librarian made of herself
    installing ubuntu on two donated PCs. If you’ve ever wondered if you
    have the tech knowledge to install linux, or need to convince someone
    else that it’s a viable alternative, then it’s maybe worth a watch.
    only four and a half minutes long :)

  3. non-super-genius geeks like me

    Huh? Exsqueeze me?

  4. I’m smart, but in a geeky direction I’m not super genius. When you hang out wiht *real* geeks like the MetaFilter crowd, you get humble.

  5. Dear Jessamyn

    I would like to say thank you for the fine video. Would you be willing to eat pizza with the Ubuntu geeks at the University of Vermont based Vermont Area Group of Unix Enthusiasts (VAGUE)?

    We have a meeting May 15th (see ) and we need a topic. You would be most welcome.

    Kindest Regards,

    Paul Flint

  6. I sent the movies around to a couple of linux forums, and to the Linux LIbrarian, and also to my daughter who is a librarian in Ohio, and who is familiar with Linux (her husband likes Ubuntu).

    Happy librarianing

    the celticgeek

  7. Librarians are cool. Especially when they discover free software…because it’s just the digital embodiment of everything they stand for. I don’t want to think how badly off this country would be if Andrew Carnegie had not started the free library system in this country.

    Keep spreading the good word, Ubuntu is for everyone, and it’s free. A satisfying computer experience does *not* require Microsoft!


  8. To think I knew you when, as a constant partial friend! Congrats and enjoy the enjoyment.